We’re thankful to @bubbaprog for letting us know AA got this mention below on Countdown with Keith Olbermann last night (no big deal)…
Olbermann reunited with his old partner in crime, Dan Patrick, to talk about what they expected in the movie version of the book, “Those Guys Have All The Fun.”
While a lot of folks have had fun trying to cast the movie, I think the more interesting question is what portion of ESPN’s history will the movie cover. Ryan took a stab at some possibilities which led to the Olbermann shout out. Dan Patrick commented that he’s hearing the movie will focus on the mid 90’s so it looks like the movie will be more focused on characters and individuals and not the uphill battle ESPN had to fight in its infancy to survive.
How that book transitions into a movie is the million dollar question. If you’ve read the book, you can see the challenge at hand. Being a Hollywood expert having watched lots of movies and every episode of Entourage, here is how I’d do it (call my people so I can get EP credit).
The movie starts in 1987 and ends sometimes in 1994. 1987 is a good starting place because 2 of the 9 major steps in ESPN’s rise happened that year. You can mention the buzz around the America’s Cup coverage while management preps for the intense NFL bidding process. A narrator (Dan Patrick? Bob Ley?) can then guide you back to how other meetings could have caused ESPN to stumble early on. You can do quick flashbacks to the first 3 steps of ESPN’s history which were all business orientated. In fact, with quick setups and cutaways you can even add some important steps like getting NCAA tournament games and Budweiser signing on as the first sponsor. Really, all of those stories just need a quick setup from a narrator and maybe 20 seconds in the flashback. You could cover a lot more ground going this route and add a lot of context.
I think the logical end point is 1994 with the start of the This Is SportsCenter commercials. The real meat of the movie outlines 2 main stories. 1) The business side where there were some very shrewd decisions but a revolving door of ownership and management. 2) John Walsh’s impact on the company and the rising star of many of the ESPN personalities as well as the development of a frat house like culture. Of course, Olbermann, Patrick, and the Big Show would play a central role.
The infamous launch party of ESPN2 would serve as the beginning of the end as the company culture has drifted a bit off course from it’s scrappy and humble roots. From there you close out the movie with the various tensions between on air personalities and their managers and end the film with the “This Is Sportscenter commercials.” For each commercial shoot you could add an epilogue for that individual and how their future with the company played out.
What are your thoughts on this approach? How would you go about not sacrificing cinematic ambition in favor of commercial appeal?